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Poor child feeding and childhood malnutrition are major public health problems in rural central and western China, with little evidence about their environmental determinants. This study aimed to investigate whether household water access is associated with dietary diversity and nutritional outcomes. We analyzed the cross-sectional data of 3727 children aged 6 to 59 months in rural central and western China, applying multivariate linear and logistic models to estimate the effect of water access on children’s anthropometric indices, hemoglobin, and dietary diversity. We found that unimproved water access was linked to a lower likelihood of achieving dietary diversity (OR = 0.65, 95% CI 0.44 to 0.98, p = 0.039); lower height-for-age z-score (β = −0.34, 95% CI −0.49 to −0.19, p < 0.001) and hemoglobin concentration (β = −2.78, 95% CI −5.16 to −0.41, p = 0.022); higher odds of stunting (OR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.25, p = 0.047) and anemia (OR = 1.34, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.77, p = 0.037). The associations between water access and nutritional outcomes were not explained by dietary diversity and were stronger in children who did not receive iron supplementation. These findings provide evidence for designing water-based nutritional interventions in China.

Original publication




Journal article





Publication Date





458 - 458